Camera Obscura – The Metal Observer

The Metal Observer


Reviewing the two 2005 albums from ORDO DRACONIS is kind of a futile task. No amount of me trying to describe the sound will do. Instead, I’ll opt for a technique popular in reviews of such eclectic music. Imagine, if you will, the following bands put in a blender, then the final product being turned inside out: EMPEROR, ARCTURUS, SIGH, MEADS OF ASPHODEL, EPHEL DUATH, DIVINA ENEMA, SOLEFALD, CARNIVAL IN COAL, the choral parts of THERION and FREDRIK THORDENDAL’S SPECIAL DEFECTS.

I hope that’s got you salivating.

ORDO DRACONIS was founded in 1996. The Dutchmen have released one demo, an MCD and another full length before recording “Camera Obscura” in 2005. “Camera Obscura” was released as two CDs, the first of which is a concept album about the Son of Dawn (based on the play “Lucifer” by Vondel), while the second is just a plain (as much as you can call ORDO DRACONIS plain) album. Their label calls them the “uncrowned kings of Dutch Post-Black Metal” and I’m ready to give them the thumbs up on that call.

(1) Ordo Draconis – Camera Obscura Pt. 1 [The Star Chamber Reviews]
Rated: 9/10.

“[Espionage]” doesn’t sound like the rest of the album, as it’s a bit of paranoid, uneasy light Jazz. “Mock Trial” starts the way you may expect an under-produced BAL-SAGOTH clone to, but then we’re in breakneck, tremolo blistering Black Metal. Really nice choirs kick in and we stop, slowing down into a kinda technical, mid-paced part that runs the gambit from ‘strange’ to ‘nifty, but weird’. You get an interplay between spoken (the judge) and shrieked (the Son of Dawn) vocals. The song continues to weave and dive through unexpected territory.

“[Vesper X]” is styled after a medieval monastic chant and is a good break for what it is. “Writing Tongue” has some really good guitar work courtesy of Rahab and 1337_Misanthrope and features a guest female vocalist. The music throughout much of it is more necro Black, but we have a choir over blast beats and shrieks over an introspective part. We even have some vocals that sit somewhere between classical tenor and carnival barker. We may have a successor to “La Masquerade Infernale.”

Unfortunately, the “[Angeldust]” is a mostly-keyboard interlude, something which almost never sits well with me. But weve still got plenty of time to regain my awe, as ORDO DRACONIS heads into a 10-minute monster, “Neuron Gutter, Neutron Star.” Somehow I’m initially reminded of “IX Equilibrium” before it gets wacky. Hyperspace tunnels give way to string quartets give way to Blackened Rock and great licks. Hammond organ! Breakdowns with shouting that don’t suck! Modern drumbeats! And we�re not halfway through the song, so here we goooooo! … “[Debris]” breaks the pattern for bracketed songs to be intros/interludes. It’s a nice, midpaced piece uses the choirs we’ve heard earlier over ever-changing metal. Drama is the name of the game until we finally fade off on a cello line that will be picked up on “Camera Obscura Pt. 2 [A View With A Room].”

If you’re lying face down in run-of-the mill, dull bands with no spark of creativity and loving it, don’t bother with this. If you want your music adventurous, bizarre and above all innovative, ORDO DRACONIS may be the band for you. Now, let’s take a look at “Camera Obscura Pt. 2.” (Online March 9, 2006)Keith.

(2) Ordo Draconis – Camera Obscura Pt. 2 [A View With A Room]
Rated: 9/10.

The cello from “[Debris],” which closed out “Camera Obscura Pt. 1,” picks up in “[Project],” but gives way to a techno song, replete with a sense of carnival-like evil. “Cloak And Dagger” kicks off with both a piano line and a guitar riff that’d make either “Sham Mirrors” or “La Masquerade Infernale”-era ARCTURUS smile. The song continues in prime ORDO DRACONIS tradition (at least compared to the last album), of blistering Black Metal influenced by unique keyboards and the occasional non-sequitur time change. This is Arjen Lucassen playing keyboards over EMPEROR.

“Sirius Fever” is the longest track on this album, a bit over 9 minutes. Now the bass joins in on the unusual path endorsed by the keyboards, this time in an almost Jazz manner. But that’s only really in the first minute and a half. I can’t attempt to cover the entire psychotropic spectrum. “The Dancefloor Clinic” sounds like a Satanic, Black Metal waltz. “The Don Of Venice” is everything we have come to expect and love from ORDO DRACONIS, while “[Eject!]” picks up where “[Debris]” left off and takes us uneasily in that gentle night.

ORDO DRACONIS is a fascinating band. I certainly have to recommend them in you’re a fan of any of the bands listed above (except maybe THERION, since the choral parts are really only on “Camera Obscura Pt.1”). They’re not easy to digest, but they certainly give you a delectable flavour to explore. Their difficulty makes the final enjoyment all the more triumphant. (Online March 10, 2006)Keith.